Soho Theatre – until 30 June 2018
Guest reviewer: Anonymous
We open on a stereotypical, modern American kitchen where wife Barb (Gala Gordon) is busying herself. When her husband Walt (Gareth David-Lloyd) comes down for breakfast, she attempts to make him something extra special: blueberry toast. Walt refuses the dish, insisting that he never asked for it and that what he really wanted was blueberry pancakes.
As the play proceeds, Barb attempts to remake the dish to Walt’s satisfaction. However, she keeps coming back with the same dish she initially made. Whatever tensions have existed within this couple’s relationship until now are about to explode to the surface. Interspersed between the couple’s tense scenes together, their two children Jack (Matt Barkley) and Jill (Adrianna Bertola) interrupt them. They perform four different acts of a dance musical which they’ve created.
Blueberry Toast is a dark comedy which is similar in style to the work of Christopher Durang. It explores the roles that people are expected to play within a typical American family and how those roles can lead to lack of proper human connection.
All the actors are excellent. David-Lloyd does an excellent job as Walt, a frustrated middle school teacher of poetry who feels he may have run out of time to pursue his true calling in the oil business (the play is set in Texas). Gordon does very well to portray someone who feels imprisoned by the demands of having to pretend to be the perfect housewife. We can see her despair flickering beneath the surface until the violence which she can barely suppress any longer starts to manifest itself. As Jack and Jill, Bertola and Barkley give much need light comic relief to the play.
Mary Laws’ Blueberry Toast is definitely a play worth seeing. It says a lot about contemporary American society in the age of Trump. The last image alone, of a smiling teenage boy sitting down smiling whilst holding a handgun, is particularly poignant.